It all happened at a hackathon we hosted in February. As with most hackathons, there are orders of magnitude more food than there are people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hackathon come remotely close to running out of food. The idea of all you can eat for a weekend while you code away is the only way it’s done.
We were left with a dilemma: throw the food away or find some way of donating it. None of the participants wanted to take it home and we were left with a stockpile of perishable food that needed a refrigerator. But, we ran out of space in our fridge and some of the food ended up spoiling and as we threw out the food, I couldn’t help feel irresponsible that we left perfectly good food go to waste.
On the second day of the hackathon, I was determined not to let the food waste. So after everyone ate, I took the remaining food to the a nearby homeless shelter and I instantly felt better. As with any moment where you have an idea, I immediately researched all avenues for donating perishable food. As with any food or clothing drive, we can all donate all of our goods and clothing every day of the week, the challenge was, it’s a pain to go through that process. Then I thought: can we make it easier? Can we make this process financially beneficial to donate? There are 190 million pounds of food that goes to waste every year that should have been consumed at our homes, restaurants, and other venues. There’s any opportunity to bridge that gap using technology. And that’s what I set out to do.
In my Code Chicago course, I decided to build an app to be an UBER for perishable foods. One button click to get someone to your door to pick up food and donate it to the individuals that need it the most. I built the MVP from scratch and after testing it out, I realized that it could be much better with the help of a very experienced coder. So Kenneth Watkins, a member of the BLUE1647 team jumped in and built the real-deal, LeftForGood, a platform that aims to solve the problem of hunger with food that’s good to eat. We’re starting with restaurants as a source of food and we’ll be updating you soon as we hit some key milestones on our way of putting a little dent in this growing problem. With the economy being so tough for so many, with very little signs of getting better any time soon, this is an opportunity to affect change and do our small part in impacting lives. If you know someone that owns a restaurant or anyone that runs a homeless shelter, please get in touch. The mobile apps will be in the app stores soon.
Expect many more of these in 2014: collaborations, companies, products, and services out of BLUE. It’s the kind of community that Chicago will be very proud of. Simple solutions to complex problems. We’ll start calling them “BLUE originals”.